Why doesn’t the Do-not-call Reg­is­ter stop me from get­ting sales calls?

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The Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity runs three Do-not-call Regis­ters—data­bases of phone num­bers that have opted out of re­ceiv­ing cer­tain kinds of sales com­mu­ni­ca­tions. There’s one data­base each for fax mes­sages, “short mes­sages” and pre-recorded phone mes­sages. You should be on it; if you’re not, call 1835000 to get your­self signed up. Once you are, com­pa­nies are legally barred from con­tact­ing you with th­ese kinds of mes­sages.

The prob­lem is that the cur­rent Do-not-call Regis­ters don’t, in fact, pre­vent the most an­noy­ing tele­mar­ket­ing prac­tice of all: per­son to per­son, or “P2P” calls. You might be on all the regis­ters, but they do noth­ing to pre­vent com­plete strangers ring­ing you and try­ing to sell you some­thing you don’t need.

The govern­ment’s been fid­dling around on this is­sue for an age, with­out tak­ing de­ci­sive ac­tion. It ac­tu­ally de­fends the prac­tice of P2P calls, say­ing that tele­mar­ket­ing em­ploys some 20,000 peo­ple in the city, and that stop­ping the prac­tice would harm small and medium en­ter­prises, even if it would make the rest of our lives hap­pier.

But the times might just be a-chang­ing. A sur­vey tabled – Sally Sales in Legco in April stated, un­sur­pris­ingly, that 90 per­cent of peo­ple con­sider tele­mar­ket­ing calls a nui­sance. Which leads us to won­der what kind of per­verts the other 10 per­cent are. Re­gard­less, the govern­ment has made noises about set­ting up a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the mat­ter, so it might pos­si­bly get around to do­ing some­thing about it one of th­ese days.

In the mean­time, there’s one sure­fire way to end a P2P sales call: Yell “HELLO??” into the phone loud enough and you’ll soon stop the stream of sales pat­ter with that stan­dard re­sponse: “Sorry, wrong num­ber.” You bet your ass it is.

Stop call­ing, stop call­ing, I don’t want to talk any­more

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